One, ranked 17th in ICC Men’s T20I batting rankings and another, a 17-year old debutante. And both made all the right impressions in the 1st game of the 3-match T20I series between Nepal and UAE at the ICC Academy ground in Dubai.
UAE’s Shaiman Anwar made 59 off 38 deliveries to guide UAE to 153/6 in their 20 overs, batting first. Nepal’s T20 globe-trotter and wonder-kid, Sandeep Lamichhane, playing in his 3rd overall T20I, collected his first two wickets at the International level with a spell of 2/25 from his 4 overs. Anwar found a good ally in Muhammad Usman (30 off 24), with whom he shared a 4th wicket partnership of 61 runs and followed it with a quickfire 30 runs partnership for the 5th wicket with Mohammad Boota to take UAE to their eventual score.
Nepal’s skipper Paras Khadka (25 off 25) opened the batting but could not continue with his brisk start with wickets falling at the other end and with his departure in the 8th over, Nepal were looking down the barrel at 48/4.
In came the 17-year old Sundeep Jhora on debut and played a well composed knock of 53 n.o off 46 runs, continuing his good form from the domestic circuit at home and while he got support down the line-up with Sompal Kami (27 off 19) and both shared a 39-runs partnership for the 7th wicket, the match was well outside Nepal’s reach by that time. In the end, they could only muster up 132/7 to lose the contest by 21 runs.
Zahoor Khan (2/17), Mohammad Naveed (2/19) and Sultan Ahmed (2/26) combined well together to restrict the batsmen and pick-up wickets at regular intervals to keep Nepal behind the asking-rate. Both team’s now meet again in the 2nd T20I on 01st Feb 2019 followed by the final match on 03rd Feb 2019. Nepal had won the ODI leg of their tour 2-1 earlier at the same venue.